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Angie's List: Buying Health Insurance

It’s the season for health care open enrollment, and dealing with all the information can be overwhelming. But being proactive can pay off.
Changes in health care have put us in the driver’s seat. Now is the time to do your research. Weigh all options and pick a health plan that’s right for you.

Taking advantage of the open enrollment period is a time for you to evaluate what your insurance covers and make sure you assess needs you are going to have over the next year,” explains Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “If you have to make changes to your insurance you can do it now before it's too late."

When Charlie Klumpp turned 65, she learned her physician’s practice didn’t accept Medicare. After paying for a couple of visits out of pocket, Klumpp decided to switch doctors. Now she always checks with doctors before scheduling an appointment.

"I called, talk to the business offices and said, "I am a Medicare patient. That's my primary. I have a secondary insurance. Will you file that for me? Do you have any concerns about taking on an additional Medicare patient?” Klumpp says.

One thing many people overlook is whether their doctor is going to continue to accept their insurance,” explains Hicks.  “While you are evaluating insurance, have a conversation with your doctor, especially if you're in the midst of a longer term treatment plan to be sure that you are still going to be covered. The last thing you want to have to do is change your doctor in the middle of treatment because of an insurance issue."

If you don’t understand what your plan does and does not cover, you could end up spending more money. Don’t assume the plan and policy you had this year will still cover your needs next year.

Insurance broker Jacob Gorden says that the biggest mistake people make when they are buying insurance is not knowing what they are looking for.

“People know they need it and know they have to get it, per the new laws, but they don't have an idea of exactly what they are looking for and often when they purchase it they don't understand what they have,” Gorden says.

Take a look at what you spent last year in premiums and out of pocket expenses and compare that to what you expect to spend in 2014, if you don’t understand your heath care options, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sit down with your benefits person at work of talk with a financial planner or insurance broker.

Angie’s List says if you decide to work with an insurance broker who is an independent agent, you will want to make sure he or she has the necessary credentials and is appropriately licensed.   

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